Interpreting, improving patient service

by Kara Haworth, The Nebraska Medical Center | July 22, 2013

Image with caption: Sergio Diaz

Sergio Diaz

He's been a familiar face in the clinics and inpatient rooms for the last 30 years.

His mission: to assist and improve the patient experience for the med center's Spanish-speaking patients.

Today, though, he's focused on something different -- enjoying the beaches of Miami, Fla. and Mexico.

After more than 38 years of service, Sergio Diaz, Spanish interpreter, retired July 12. He recently broke the news of his retirement to a patient in the Emergency Department, who he has interpreted for many times over the years.

"She started to cry," Diaz said.

She's just one of many in the hospital impacted by Diaz, a great resource not only for patients, but for providers who need to communicate with their patients.

"Sergio was able to provide cultural information when necessary to both the care team and the patient regarding systemic issues and cultural beliefs as it pertained to medical care," said supervisor Flower Nunez of Interpretive Service.

Diaz became an interpreter for University Hospital in 1990, after his position in the microbiology/pathology lab was eliminated. He had worked in the lab for 10 years after being hired nearly 40 years ago at the Eppley Cancer Center.

When Diaz was hired as an interpreter, it was one of two newly-created, part-time positions. Prior to that, a volunteer was interpreting for the hospital.

Part-time status only lasted a few months. Back then, interpreters made appointments in the clinics, interpreting for patients during those appointed times. Now, interpreters travel throughout the hospital and clinics as needed. In their downtime, they translate documents into Spanish.

"I liked the fact that I got to go everywhere," Diaz says. "It was a big change from being in a dark room all day.

"The experience is nice," he added. "You help the patient and they appreciate your help."

He spent many years interpreting in the pediatric clinic.

"I love kids. I always had a good time in pediatrics," Diaz said.

Pediatrics is also where he met his wife, Yolanda.

"The first time I saw her, she was with her son, who was 14 at the time," he said. "I saw her a couple more times, and it just went from there."

They married in 2003 and plan to move to Miami as soon as their house is sold.

"Sergio will be missed but I am very excited that he is able to enjoy a well-deserved retirement," Nunez said.

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Janell Stewart
July 25, 2013 at 8:52 AM

Best wishes, Sergio!! You have been a friend of our family for many years and we send you off with our best wishes. So nice you will be closer to Nelson with your move to Miami. Enjoy!!

Susan Blum
July 22, 2013 at 5:25 PM

Sergio - it has been a pleasure to know you all these years at UNMC. You are such a pleasantly kind person. Enjoy your retirement!

Cindy Norton
July 22, 2013 at 4:17 PM

Congratulations Sergio!!!

Tom O'Connor
July 22, 2013 at 1:17 PM

Congrats to Sergio on a great career! Enjoy your retirement!

Dr. Jorge Rodriguez-Sierra
July 22, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Sergio will be missed. Felicidades en tu retiro.

Tom Hejkal
July 22, 2013 at 9:09 AM

Sergio always provided great service for our patients. We in the eye department will miss him much.

Renee Fordyce-Boyer
July 22, 2013 at 8:42 AM

Sergio will be greatly missed here at UNMC. I worked with him at Eppley Cancer Institute in the 70's and enjoyed seeing him again and again on campus in his different roles. He has worn many different hats while here on campus and has done a great job in all of them. I wish him good luck in his newest endeavor!

David Finken
July 22, 2013 at 7:45 AM

Sergio is a truly good human being who cares greatly about people. He will be greatly missed.

Teresa Fritz
July 22, 2013 at 7:45 AM

I also worked in the Microbiology/pathololgy labs in the 80's and remember Sergio. Over the years I have seen him here at University Hospital and he has always been a helpful and generous individual. I wish you the best of luck and good wishes in your retirement Sergio. Teresa (Mollner) Fritz

Dennis Rieke
July 22, 2013 at 7:13 AM

Worked with Sergio with many patients - an excellent resource, and a caring person. I also had the luck to serve with him in the Nebraska Army National Guard - Thanks for your service there also - enjoy retirement!